Keywords: production planning, flowshop scheduling, proton exchange membrane fuel cells, PEMFC, membrane electrode assembly, cost modelling, heuristic scheduling algorithms, engineering models, technology investment, engineering economics, decision support, cost estimation, fuel cell production
Engineering models for fuel cell production management
Membrane electrode assemblies are the key components of proton exchange membrane fuel cells. The future demand for this product could grow exponentially if key technical challenges are successfully addressed including low cost mass production and reliable customer order fulfilment. This study reports on a multidisciplinary team effort to formulate and apply engineering models for managing the fabrication and shipping of this product at a global supplier. With the goal of assessing the cost effectiveness of scheduling a new, semi-automated production flow line system to meet an order of magnitude increase in demand, a specialised schedule building logic is proposed to support what-if analyses to inform a major technology investment decision for this supplier. The results of the study provide a decision support tool to generate cost estimates for meeting increased market demand using the new production technology.